Recommendations

The Hazelwood Mine Fire Board of Inquiry makes 18 recommendations.

These recommendations have been drafted taking into account issues raised by the Latrobe Valley community and the feasibility of implementation.

The term ‘State’ is used broadly in the recommendations to refer to the Victorian Government, the Victorian public service, and public entities such as Emergency Management Victoria, the Country Fire Authority, the Environment Protection Authority and the Victorian WorkCover Authority.

Recommendations relevant to the State are generally not prescriptive in terms of the entity tasked with implementation.

Where the term ‘GDF Suez’ is used in these recommendations, this is intended to refer to the entity that can most appropriately implement recommendations in respect of the Hazelwood mine.

The Board’s recommendations should be read alongside the Board’s ‘affirmations’ which comprise the actions that the State and GDF Suez committed to undertake during the course of this Inquiry.

Recommendations to the State

Recommendation 1

The State empower and require the Auditor-General or another appropriate agency, to: oversee the implementation of these recommendations and the commitments made by the State and GDF Suez during this Inquiry; and report publicly every year for the next three years on the progress made in implementing recommendations and commitments.

Recommendation 2

The State establish, for any future incident, integrated incident management teams with GDF Suez and other Victorian essential industry providers, to: require that emergency services personnel work with GDF Suez and other appropriate essential industry providers; and implement the Australasian Inter-service Incident Management System.

Recommendation 3

The State enact legislation, to: require Integrated Fire Management Planning; and authorise the Emergency Management Commissioner to develop and implement regional and municipal fire management plans.

Recommendation 4

The State: bring forward the commencement date of s.16 of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Amendment Act 2014 (Vic), to facilitate the requirement that approved work plans specifically address fire prevention, mitigation and suppression; and acquire the expertise necessary to monitor and enforce compliance with fire risk measures adopted by the Victorian coal mining industry under both the mine licensing and occupational health and safety regimes.

Recommendation 5

The State equip itself to undertake rapid air quality monitoring in any location in Victoria, to: collect all relevant data, including data on PM2.5, carbon monoxide and ozone; and ensure this data is used to inform decision-making within 24 hours of the incident occurring.

Recommendation 6

The State take the lead in advocating for a national compliance standard for PM2.5.

Recommendation 7

The State review and revise the community carbon monoxide response protocol and the firefighter carbon monoxide response protocol, to: ensure both protocols are consistent with each other; ensure both protocols include assessment methods and trigger points for specific responses; ensure GDF Suez and other appropriate essential industry providers are required to adopt and apply the firefighter carbon monoxide protocol; and inform all firefighters about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, and in particular highlight the increased risks for those with health conditions and those who are pregnant.

Recommendation 8

The State review and revise the Bushfire Smoke Protocol and the PM2.5 Health Protection Protocol, to: ensure both protocols are consistent with each other; and ensure both protocols include assessment methods and trigger points for specific responses.

Recommendation 9

The State develop and widely disseminate an integrated State Smoke Guide, to: incorporate the proposed State Smoke Plan for the management of public health impacts from large scale, extended smoke events; include updated Bushfire Smoke, carbon monoxide and PM2.5 protocols; and provide practical advice and support materials to employers, communities and individuals on how to minimise the harmful effects of smoke.

Recommendation 10

The State should continue the long-term health study, and: extend the study to at least 20 years; appoint an independent board, which includes Latrobe Valley community representatives, to govern the study; and direct that the independent board publish regular progress reports.

Recommendation 11

The State review and revise its communication strategy, to: ensure all emergency response agencies have, or have access to, the capability and resources needed for effective and rapid public communications during an emergency; and ensure, where appropriate, that private operators of essential infrastructure are included in the coordination of public communications during an emergency concerning that infrastructure.

Recommendation 12

The State, led by Emergency Management Victoria, develop a community engagement model for emergency management to ensure all State agencies and local governments engage with communities and already identified trusted networks as an integral component of emergency management planning.